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Summary of Reference

Author:
Boulton-Lewis, Gillian M., Wilss, Lynn, & Mutch, Susan

Title:
Representations and Strategies for Subtraction Used by Primary School Children.

Bibliographic data:
Boulton-Lewis, G.M., Wilss, L., & Mutch, S. (1996). Representations and Strategies for Subtraction Used by Primary School Children. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 8 (2), 137-152.

Summary: 
The paper presents research designed to determine how children would represent and solve subtraction algorithms presented symbolically and as word problems. The study is based on 65 children in years 4 to 6 in two Brisbane ( Australia ) primary schools.

The research shows that if algorithms are treated minimally in the earlier years of mathematics education and if much greater use is made of mental strategies, with or without concrete representations, then a range of algorithms can be explored later with greater understanding. Children have less trouble with mental strategies than many have believed and it seems clear that children use them as soon as possible and continue to use them with or without analogues or calculators.